AFP, US troops to see action in ‘Balikatan 33’

ANGELES CITY – The RP-US annual military exercises will commence next month with various community outreach activities including disaster control and rescue in the event of major calamities in selected locations the country.

The 12-day military training will give participants opportunity to improve their knowledge in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

“The training focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in order to to improve response effectiveness and speed in the event of natural disaster and other crisis that comes along the way in the event of calamities,” US Embassy said in a statement.

This year activities, US Embassy said will begin on May 8 to 19 to be held in Luzon and Visayas areas.

Philippine and U.S. forces will kick off Exercise Balikatan 33-2017 through community engagement activities in Panay, Leyte, and Samar. U.S. and Filipino service members will work together to renovate five schools and conduct community medical engagements with local residents in the opening days of exercise.

Preliminary work on community infrastructure projects began mid-April, US Embassy stated further.

Balikatan 33-2017 incorporates high value training events designed to enhance the capabilities of both AFP and U.S. armed forces.

“Balikatan is designed to meet current challenges facing the Philippines,” said Molly Koscina, U.S. Embassy Press Attaché. “Along with preparing the U.S. forces’ and AFP’s ability to respond to natural disasters and deliver humanitarian aid, Balikatan will also increase our militaries’ counterterrorism capabilities.”

This year’s exercise will have AFP and U.S. forces partnering to improve their counterterrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks.

During Balikatan, Koscina said U.S. and Philippine forces will conduct operational and counterterrorism training exercises in diverse areas of expertise, including live fire advanced marksmanship, counter improvised explosive devices (IED), maritime interdiction, and amphibious raids.

The and the United States will continue to collaborate with regional partner nations as forces from Australia and Japan will participate in all major training events.

The AFP has invited military forces from several other nations to be part of the International Observers Program.